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Fashion, luxury and lifestyle news aggregator - April 2024

Posted: 30/04/2024

Unlocking luxury – how retailers are redefining access and ownership

Pre-loved fashion retailer, Luxe Collective, has gone viral on social media for challenging members of the public to distinguish between real and fake designer handbags at its recent pop-up event in Liverpool. Luxe is a resale marketplace known for its ability to identify authentic pre-owned luxury goods and is one of the UK’s ‘fastest growing names in the pre-loved luxury sector’. The retailer had recent success on Dragons’ Den, receiving a £100,000 investment from Steven Bartlett in exchange for a 3% equity stake, highlighting alternative ways for consumers to access the luxury market. It also recently made a debut on TikTok Shop’s second-hand luxury fashion platform.

Luxury sourcing is another route into the luxury market, where fashion sourcing experts connect shoppers with desired pieces. This shopping method has grown in recent years, mainly through experts based on social media who track down specific and often hard to source items, overcoming the difficulties many buyers face with exclusive and sold-out luxury brands. Dedicated sourcing apps, such as Sourcewhere, are also growing – marketplaces connecting shoppers with the pieces they are looking for and serving to ‘democratise the most white glove shopping experiences’. With Hermes facing a class-action lawsuit against alleged restrictive sales of its Birkin bags, fashion sourcers may offer a solution to luxury’s increasing restrictions.

Meanwhile, NFTs are hitting headlines again with Louis Vuitton turning a leather varsity jacket into a digitally collectible NFT, limited to 200 copies and priced at €7,900. The NFT can be purchased through a token-gated website, with the holders receiving a physical version at the end of the year. Other luxury retailers have also jumped on the crypto bandwagon, including Dior, which previously released sneakers with in-sole authenticity enabled by blockchain – an encrypted digital key allowing the owner to access their shoe’s certificate of authenticity.

Emerging technologies and the entrance of new players into the luxury market are redefining the concept of ownership and exclusivity. The definition of luxury is perhaps becoming more porous, as alternative shopping methods continue to disrupt traditional retail experiences.

Nike preparing for bounce back with 2024 Olympics

Nike’s shares are down 19% in the last 12 months. Whilst this slowdown in performance can be partly attributed to the pandemic, Nike is battling to recover. The sportswear giant is now looking to the 2024 Olympics as a beacon on which to peg its comeback. 

The president of consumer, product and brand at Nike has confirmed that the Olympics will be its ‘largest media spend’, and ‘the most investment and the biggest moment for Nike in years’. No figures have been confirmed, but marketing spend has been over $1 billion since Q4 2023. This coincides with the hire of a new chief marketing officer at the end of 2023. The new leadership signifies a shake-up of top roles at Nike, which has stated that it wants to ‘reimagine sport for the next generation of athletes’.

So, what does this mean? It is clear that Nike’s vision of this next generation is a diverse one. In 2019, Nike unveiled plus-size mannequins in its flagship London store. Since then, parasport mannequins have been used in stores to demonstrate the brand’s commitment to diversity. However, this commitment has recently been under fire, with parasport athletes criticising Nike for using amputee mannequins to promote its products, whilst still only selling shoes in pairs. Nike responded noting its ‘One Shoe Bank’ initiative.

The discussion regarding inclusivity is a hot topic in the run-up to the Olympic games. The recent debut of Nike’s USA track and field Olympic uniforms has received significant criticism and ignited a debate across social media sites for being sexist, particularly the new style of its women’s bodysuit. Nike noted that in creating each kit it started with ‘the voice of the athlete’, but following public criticism the sportswear brand has since confirmed its plans to provide custom tailored uniforms for the games.

The real outcome of Nike’s self-proclaimed ‘new frontier of innovation’ will be seen in its future financial results following the games.

Fast fashion under fire

Despite only being in the early stages of developing its retail presence, Temu has come under widespread scrutiny since its launch in 2022, much like Shein has in recent years. Temu is a Chinese-based online marketplace selling clothes, shoes, toys, and other items.

Dr Martens, the British footwear retailer, is suing Temu for alleged trademark infringement. The action was filed in the High Court, alleging that Temu has been using Google advertisements containing phrases like ‘Dr. Martens’ and ‘Airwair’, to promote boots on the platform. As a result, Dr Martens was booted from the top of Google search results for these search terms by Temu.

Dr Martens is not alone in its battle against Temu. As reported by the Yonhap News Agency, South Korean regulators are investigating Temu on suspicion of false advertising and unfair practices, including its ‘aggressive marketing tactics’ to lure in South Korean customers. Recently Temu U-turned on its cash giveaway campaign which offered vouchers or cash up to a value of £50 to users in exchange for downloading the Temu app and inviting another user to sign up, due to misunderstandings on the extent of client data use.

In an attempt to tackle the likes of Temu and Shein, the French government recently approved a bill that targets fast fashion and ultra-fast fashion sold by online retailers. The bill proposes to ban the advertising of certain ultra-fast fashion companies in order to offset their environmental impact, and penalise them with annual increasing increments of up to 10 euros per article of clothing by 2030. Similar steps are being taken in the US.

A spokesperson for Temu has argued that the brand does not operate as a fast fashion business on the basis that it is a marketplace and does not manufacture its own products.

Ted Baker takeover update

Following last month’s news that Ted Baker had appointed administrators, the embattled retailer’s Northern American licensing partner, OSL, is reportedly interested in a potential takeover bid and is the front runner to take control of UK and European operations. However, Next and Frasers Group are also reportedly still in contention for a possible deal. This follows the announcement that 11 of the company’s UK stores would close, while landlords have served notice on an additional four sites, leading to 245 job losses. The 11 stores were deemed to have ‘no prospect of returning to profitability, even with material rent reductions’, and all were to cease trading by 19 April. The owner of Ted Baker’s intellectual property, Authentic Brands, is said to still be seeking a new operating partner for the retail and online business in the UK and Europe.

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